The fort is a very interesting place to visit, whether you are a history buff or just curious. There's so much to see here, it took us over an hour to walk around inside. But if you have the time, the Castillo de San Marcos is well worth taking a look.
The fort is the oldest masonary fortification in the continental United States. They have lots of ancient cannons and other weapons on display inside. I wasn't all that interested in going inside... but my partner was, and I'm glad I went. It really was fascinating.
The Castillo de San Marcos, built 1672-1695, served primarily as an outpost of the Spanish Empire, guarding St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, and also protecting the sea route for treasure ships returning to Spain.
Although the Castillo has served a number of nations throughout its history, it has never been taken by military force. During the 18th century, the Castillo went from Spanish control to British and back to the Spanish, all by treaty. The Spanish remained in power in Florida until the area was purchased by the United States in 1821. Called Fort Marion at this time, the Castillo was used by the US army until 1899.
Once the northernmost outpost of Spain's empire in the New World, construction on the Castillo was begun in 1672 and completed 23 years later.
The Castillo was twice besieged by the British -- once for 50 days in 1702 and again during a 27-day bombardment in 1740. Both times, the Castillo held fast against its attackers.
In 1763, Spain gave Florida to the British in exchange for Havana, Cuba. For the next 20 years, the huge edifice was known as Fort St. Mark. In 1783, Florida was returned to Spain's control.
The Second Spanish Period ended in 1821 when Spain gave Florida to the United States, and in 1825 the name was again changed -- this time to Fort Marion. During the ensuing years the old structure was used, at various times, to house Indian prisoners during the Seminole Wars; to house Confederate soldiers during the Civil War; for holding Plains Indians captured during western campaigns; and as a military prison during the Spanish American War.
The Castillo was made a National Monument in 1924 and became part of the National Park system in 1933. In 1942, Congress restored the original name. The park consists of the original historic Castillo fortress itself with its attendant grounds, some 25 total acres.
I liked finding this place because I've seen nothing like it anywhere in the us, it's the only place I've seen that brings back the days of pirates and tall ships and the Spanish Main.